Wil­son’s late try al­lows New­cas­tle to scram­ble off the bot­tom

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Rugby Union - By Gary Fitzger­ald at Franklin’s Gar­dens

Mark Wil­son’s long arms ripped vic­tory from the grasp of Northamp­ton and gifted New­cas­tle a cru­cial boost in their at­tempt to start climb­ing the Premier­ship ta­ble.

The Eng­land flanker’s dra­matic try, forc­ing the ball against the base of a post deep into in­jury time as Saints failed to hold on hav­ing lost Dan Big­gar to the sin bin, brought screams of joy and re­lief from the vis­it­ing play­ers and their sup­port­ers.

Fal­cons lifted them­selves off the foot of the ta­ble above Sale and di­rec­tor of rugby Dean Richards en­thused: “Mark did very well and I’m pleased he got that score. All the in­ter­na­tion­als who came back boosted the team.

“The ref could have given a penalty try at the end but I was happy we won by scor­ing our­selves. Northamp­ton are a good team and this is a big win for the guys. It has not both­ered us where we are [in the ta­ble] be­cause we have the re­solve in the team to keep us win­ning in dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances.”

Richards’ un­happy coun­ter­part Chris Boyd ad­mit­ted: “The dress­ing room is like a morgue at the mo­ment. It’s a bit­ter pill to swal­low. We should have had the game done and dusted by half­time but failed to con­vert pres­sure into more tries. It’s a big dis­ap­point­ment.”

Wil­son’s try spoiled Dy­lan Hart­ley’s 250th ap­pear­ance for Saints who led most of the way af­ter falling be­hind to an early Toby Flood penalty.

It was a first half of plenty of phys­i­cal­ity and ad­ven­ture from the home side but their ri­vals’ de­fence stood firm. And it was with an ironic groan, that when ref­eree Matthew Car­ley pe­nalised Saints at a ruck, Flood drifted his sec­ond penalty over to in­crease the ad­van­tage. The kick was made eas­ier when Courtney Lawes cost his side 10 yards by com­plain­ing to Car­ley.

But the angst of the home fans fi­nally turned to cheers of re­lief and joy when a fine run from Ja­cobus Reinach saw him beat three at­tempted tack­lers and dart over for his side’s open­ing try. It had taken half an hour for what seemed the in­evitable Saints try and Big­gar’s con­ver­sion edged the hosts’ noses in front for the first time.

Car­ley re­ceived a sar­cas­tic roar of ap­proval from the Saints sup­port­ers when he pe­nalised Fal­cons on the stroke of half-time for col­laps­ing a scrum. Saints cap­i­talised with a kick into the cor­ner but blew a line-out af­ter a sec­ond penalty and had to be sat­is­fied with a one-point lead at the break.

New­cas­tle be­gan to flag, hav­ing had to soak up plenty of heavy pres­sure, and the gaps be­gan to open wide. Flanker Teimana Har­ri­son found a big one, tak­ing Lawes’ pass in his stride and fed the sup­port­ing Reinach. There was no stop­ping the scrum-half again as he left his tack­lers swip­ing at mid-air and the South African’s sec­ond try – un­der the posts and con­verted by Big­gar – gave his side some breath­ing space.

A rare Fal­cons sight at the Saints line al­most saw Vereniki Goneva score a stun­ning in­di­vid­ual try. He showed aware­ness, power and pace to surge down the right flank but a last-ditch tackle from full-back Ah­see Tuala just thwarted the Fi­jian-born wing as he tried to reach out and ground the ball.

Fal­cons had their tails up and sensed tak­ing some­thing from the game. Brett Con­non re­duced the lead to five points The young­ster had just walked onto the field as a re­place­ment for the dazed Si­mon Ham­mer­s­ley, taken off to be as­sessed, but showed his cool­ness and con­trol to send a long-range kick through the posts.

Then came a dra­matic and fran­tic fin­ish with Fal­cons camped on the Northamp­ton line des­per­ately try­ing to mus­cle their way across. Car­ley could eas­ily have sent a Saint to the sin bin well be­fore he sig­nalled for Big­gar to leave for con­stant foul play.

The home side fi­nally cracked and one more push saw Wil­son reach out for the cru­cial try. Flood’s con­ver­sion saw the visi­tors earn a win which will lift their spir­its head­ing into Euro­pean bat­tle next week­end.

Scores 0-3 Flood pen; 0-6 Flood pen; 5-6 Reinach try; 7-6 Big­gar con; 12-6 Reinach try; 14-6 Big­gar con; 14-9 Con­non pen; 14-14 Wil­son try; 14-16 Flood con. Northamp­ton A Tuala; A Kell­away (O Sleightholme. 68), F Ding­wall, P Fran­cis, T Nai­yar­a­voro; D Big­gar, C Reinach; A Waller (F Van Wyk, 63), D Hart­ley (R Mar­shall, 73), P Hill (P Franks, 40); D Rib­bans (A Ratu­ni­yarawa, 67), C Lawes, J Gib­son, L Lud­lam, T Har­ri­son. Yel­low Card Big­gar. New­cas­tle S Ham­mer­s­ley (B Con­non, 70); V Goneva, C Har­ris, J Wil­liams (P Bet­ten­court., 63), S Sinoti; T Flood, S Stu­art (S Taku­lua, 49); S Lock­wood (A Brock­le­bank, 57), K Cooper (G McGuigan, 50), D Wil­son (L Mulipola, 55); C Green, S Robin­son (A Dav­i­son, 40), M Wil­son, J Hardie, N Na­gusa (G Gra­ham, 67). Ref­eree: M Car­ley.

Col­li­sion course: Jamie Gib­son, of Northamp­ton, tack­les New­cas­tle’s Sonatane Taku­lua

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